The Essential Guide to Sales and Marketing Integration

sales and marketing
Have you ever had important mail delivered to the wrong address or missed vital news because of a wrong phone number? Imagine how much more such missed connections matter when a major sale hangs in the balance. Sales/marketing integration, or SMI, avoids the missed signals that can cost you by connecting your CRM to a centralized database. A single intuitive platform puts more customer knowledge within reach and helps you deliver outstanding service that wins you sales.

As important as integration is, many companies aren’t sure how to achieve it. In our recent Twitter poll of more than 900 respondents, 55 percent believe their sales/marketing integration is seriously out of sync or is completely nonexistent. Only 1 in 6 feel they have seamless SMI – a number that suggests there’s incredible potential for improvement.

To understand how SMI directly affects your bottom line, let’s take a look at a couple of real-world examples.

A Tale of Two Sellers

Linda works for a company that’s recently installed new marketing software, but she’s still using the existing CRM that’s unconnected to it. Some of her records are still on the legacy system before her current CRM, while others are updated piecemeal as sellers access files.

The good news for Linda is that her marketing team has passed along a promising lead to her. The bad news: She can’t tell much about her contact because she doesn’t have all the facts in front of her. The name on the file is “Bill Smith,” but in her CRM, she has two William Smiths, one Bill J. Smith, and a Bill M. Smith.

She’s not even sure if this Bill Smith is one of them or a new record because not all the data fields in her system are filled in, and at least one record looks like a duplicate. Without direct access to records in a centralized database, she has no indication of Mr. Smith’s site traffic patterns or areas of interest.

Mark, meanwhile, has the benefit of a fully integrated CRM that communicates with his company’s centralized database in real time. Bill Smith has contacted his organization too, and when Mark calls up the account, he can trace his prospect’s trajectory through the site – which blog posts he’s read, the content he’s downloaded, and the emails he’s opened.

Data enhancement has filled in the blanks on the account, giving Mark a clear picture of Bill Smith based on demographic, firmographic, and behavioral details. He’s able to get all the knowledge he needs instantly and connect with the right Bill Smith the first time using up to date contact information.

Given what you know, who makes the sale? If you’re Bill Smith, which company do you choose?

Why Integration Matters

Companies that produce the highest revenue use sales technology to dominate their market. According to an Aberdeen Group report, 81 percent of top performing businesses use a CRM system to achieve their best-in-class status.

Yet stand-alone technology isn’t enough to make a measurable difference for businesses. If databases and CRMs are isolated from one another, information can’t flow between them. The missing link is your centralized database. When your system is able to follow leads and customers throughout their entire lifecycle, you’re in the best position to meet their needs. That’s the kind of service that produces glowing referrals, repeated sales, and long-term loyalty.

To go back to that tale of two sellers, Linda is only there for one leg of the buying journey; Mark is with his customer every step of the way using centralized data from sales and marketing working together. Linda can’t compete with the customer knowledge Mark has at a glance, and he’ll almost certainly earn the sale because of it.

Two Approaches, One Database

Both sales and marketing are working toward the same goal of earning more revenue, but they approach it in very different ways:

Marketing Vs. Sales Mindset

Once a centralized database brings sales and marketing knowledge together within a single system, marketers can gain and use insight into how customers successfully moved through the pipeline to make a purchase, and sellers no longer waste time nurturing leads who aren’t yet sales-ready. With SMI, the sales and marketing team work together toward the common goal of converting prospects into customers.

“Connecting the CRM to a centralized database resulted in a 38 percent increase in converted leads.”

– Reach Marketing media firm case study

When it comes to leading-edge technology, marketing has had an advantage. Technology has transformed the art of marketing into a powerful predictive science. Meanwhile, as our poll indicates, many sales teams have had to make do with low tech alternatives. According to a 2017 report from HubSpot, almost half of sales personnel are still tracking their customer data using informal tools such as spreadsheets to maintain their records. Now with SMI, sellers access the same leading-edge technology that has transformed data-driven marketing.

Exploring the Benefits of SMI

By the time a lead reaches you, marketing has already gathered volumes of data on your prospect. Knowing which products they view, articles they read, case studies they review, and videos they watch will provide the deep insight necessary to keep the conversation on the right track from the very beginning. Whether you’re working with a first-time buyer, a repeat customer, or a longtime loyalist, SMI puts those marketing insights to work for you by streamlining the lead process and creating the right opportunity to close more sales.

According to DemandGen, successfully customized lead nurture programs result in 20 percent more sales opportunities.

Streamlined Sales
It’s a simple formula. The less time you waste digging up contact information and preparing prospects for a sale, the more time you have closing with other customers. A centralized database saves you effort by putting data at your fingertips and preparing leads for the sale well before they make contact with you. SMI also improves the customer experience, shortening a buyer’s journey through the sales pipeline and reducing friction along the way.

Reduced Risk
Every prospect represents an investment of time and energy. Wasted effort is a loss of that investment. Losing a sale from missed buying signals or outdated contact information is unsustainably costly. SMI lets marketers set up alerts to tell you when a lead’s in the “Goldilocks zone” of sales readiness and gives you complete, updated account files so you never miss a connection.

Increased Revenue
What motivates a buyer can change from person to person, but data can tell you the story of each customer so you can understand what moves them. Integrated analytics show you how to use successful buying patterns, pinpoint which behaviors lead to sales, and use personalization to increase the likelihood of a sale. When you know what you’re looking for and have an integrated CRM with full account histories in front of you, you’re acting on real customer knowledge, not flying blind.

How to Improve Your SMI

By aligning entire systems rather than creating stand-alone databases, your SMI platform is greater than the sum of its parts. Even if you already feel your sales team works closely with marketing for better customer care, complete database integration can produce dramatic results. Here’s a step-by-step look at how your CRM fits into a larger revenue strategy.

Centralization: Setting up your database to connect to CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Sugar, or Microsoft Dynamics is the first step toward full integration.

Normalization: This step puts all your data in a single consistent format. For example, if your CRM stores dates in an older MM/DD/YY form while your marketing software uses MM/DD/YYYY, normalization will update all your records to match.

Optimization: Your results are only as good as your data, and optimization includes all the processes your database manager goes through to increase data quality. Data hygiene and enhancement processes fill in the blanks on customer records and keep your information up to date in real time.

Customization: Ultimately, selling comes down to one-on-one connections with buyers. That concept is at the heart of account-based marketing. SMI lets you personalize communications governing the entire user experience and deliver unrivaled customer care. Because individual sellers can take full ownership of accounts, adding custom fields for “From” lines, signatures, images of relevant products, and other personalized details, customers get to know you as well as your brand.

Analysis: What are your customers’ buying signals? Which of them are likely to be ready for an upgrade or cross-sell? How can you take a more systematic approach to making your brand relevant to each of your potential customers? Analytics can supply the answers, but only if you have access to current, accurate, and fully integrated data.

Refinement: With every sale or service call, you add to your library of customer knowledge. Over time, sales/marketing integration will allow you to refine your approach, and your sales approach will appeal to your buyers in ways your competition can’t match.

How Well Integrated is Your CRM?

Depending on your current technology and training, you may already be well on your way to full SMI, or you may have some distance to cover before you become ready for complete integration. This self-assessment tool will help you identify your state of SMI and show you how to improve it.

1. Does your current CRM integrate seamlessly with your marketing database?

2. Are you able to create custom fields and assign ownership of them to specific members of your sales team?

3. Can you access lead scoring information that tells your sales team when leads are sales-ready?

4. Can your CRM channel forward leads to specific sales representatives based on lead score, area of experience, or other criteria you choose?

5. Does your CRM include buying behavior and the context in which the sale can take place to give you a more nuanced, insightful and detailed view of your customers?

If you answered mostly “no” or “not yet” to these questions, you can benefit by talking with a sales integration consultant who can prepare you for better sales/marketing integration. If most of your answers were “yes” or “soon,” then you’re ready to speak with a consultant who will help you take the next steps to full SMI.

Building a Better Team

SMI goes beyond technology, too. With a centralized database, your sales and marketing teams work together for the benefit of your customers and your brand, creating a smoother customer experience at every stage. Leave missed connections and lost data behind by putting all your knowledge to work for you and your buyers.

Reach Marketing provides a comprehensive range of strategies and solutions for sales marketing integration, data augmentation, database management, analytics and intelligence-driven sales support.

© Reach Marketing LLC 2017 All Rights Reserved.

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